Having a quilt professionally machined is very expensive by anyone's standards. It is nearly as costly to purchase a machine quilting frame. Quilting frames are rather large, and there is no universal size for different types of quilting machines. For these reasons, some people choose to make their own machine quilting frame.
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The quilting machine rests on top of two platforms called carriages. The lower carriage sits on a frame which allows the machine to roll from one end of the frame to the other. The top carriage sits above the bottom carriage and rolls on tracks allowing the machine to move forward and backward across the frame. Making your own carriage/frame assembly will enable you to design it to fit your machine.
Before beginning construction of your quilting frame, you should have adequate space for the frame and be able to access the quilt from all sides comfortably. You should decide if your frame will be portable for storage purposes or stationary. It is important to consider the largest size quilt you will make so your frame design will have adequate extensions and so you will know if you have enough space for the frame. Being able to adjust the height will give you the option to sit or stand when working.
Most machine quilting frames are made of finished wood. The tracks are an important component, and you should take care when choosing what they will be made of, how they will extend, how to keep them from slipping and what you will use to keep them straight. Rollers should be reinforced and advance the quilt with ease without slipping. You will need to decide whether or not your frame will have leaders, and if so, they should be easy to change. You should also consider methods of tension adjustment, such as with pins or clamps.
Designing and building your own machine quilting frame is possible, but you must do it correctly in order for it to work properly. Instructions on how to build several different types of quilting frames can be found online or at your local library.
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